It took the courage and dream of Phoebe Hagan, an 11-year-old girl, and the support of her younger sister, Alice, aged nine, to write a letter to no less a person than the British Treasury Chancellor, Gordon Brown, telling him about their contribution to the chancellor's “Global Education Campaign for Children in Developing Countries”.
And you know what? They actually invited him over to meet and discuss with them a project they (the girls) had begun.
The two girls, whose parents are Ghanaian and British, are the brain behind a project dubbed CARE Computers for Developing Countries, intended to provide every school-age child in Ghana with easy access to computers over the next 10 years (2007 – 2017).
As part of the project there is a condition for schools to establish recycling plants on their premises to collect plastic sachets and bottles for recycling other than burning.
In the last paragraph of that letter, Phoebe and Alice write: “If it would be possible to meet personally to discuss the details of our project and how you could help CARE by adding value to the charity project we would be grateful.”
Gordon Brown replied and congratulated the girls on their effort but did not make any promises to meet and discuss, except to say that his government had committed some £8.5 billion in “The World Classroom — Developing Global Partnership in Education” project, which intends to promote child education and provision of ICT facilities to schools in the United Kingdom (UK) and developing countries over the next 10 years.
Mrs Ann Lawrenson, Headteacher of Lyndhurst First School, in Worthing, West Sussex, UK, where Phoebe and Alice had their primary school education, said: “We are particularly proud of the two girls because we taught them how to write.”
Their mom, Alba, says: “My children have changed my life with their vision — I am so proud of them.” Jib, their father, who hails from Gomoa Akwati, in the Central Region of Ghana, says: “My girls have shown me that common and ordinary people can attain uncommon and extraordinary things just by dreaming and living their dream — they have given me a new vision and I am running with it.”
Phoebe, who is actually the one at the centre of the vision, says that she feels very important now, even though she does not show it in any way.
Besides the fact that Phoebe's dream has attracted the attention and support of many important persons, schools and organisations, she is just like the girl next door, an average student, her grade four teacher told me. At 11 she still watches cartoons, plays computer games and does everything like any other child.
Because Phoebe dreamt and decided to live her dream with the support of her Ghanaian-born dad, Jib and little sister, Alice, she has gotten the attention of several schools, organisations and individuals not only in Sussex, where she lives with her parents, but also of people who matter in her second home, Ghana.
The Second Lady of Ghana, the Ministry of Education, Science and Sports as well as the Environmental Protection Agency have put their heavy weights behind Phoebe's dream to take it to another level.
But what was her dream? At age seven, Phoebe visited her second home, Ghana, for the first time. That was in 2002. While in Ghana she followed her cousin Felicia to school, Swedru Secondary School in the Central Region and made friends with Felicia's classmates.
She had the opportunity to show her new friends her computer skills but realised that the students did not know much about computers.
On her return to the UK, Phoebe tried to reach her new friends but realised that there was no way she could contact them except by phone, which was too expensive for a child.
Phoebe told me that she actually thought to herself that “if I could help my friends in Ghana with computers, we could communicate via emails through the Internet and that would be cheaper for all of us.”
Without informing her dad, Phoebe spoke with her computer tutor, Janice, at Chesswood Middle School the following day about her dream and Janice took her to the Headteacher, Mr David Newnham, who willingly agreed to pass on the school's redundant computers to Phoebe to take to her new friends in Ghana. And that was how her dream began to be real.